OKLAHOMA has done as much as any state to battle the proliferation of methamphetamine in its cities and towns, and yet there are miles to go before anyone will be able to claim victory against the scourge of this inexpensive and highly addictive drug.
That's clear in recent reporting about the continuing explosion of the so-called shake-and-bake method of cooking meth.
Not long ago, elaborate labs were the choice of cooks in Oklahoma. These labs produced larger quantities of meth and carried with them large risks for explosions and fires due to the highly volatile nature of the ingredients involved.
The key ingredient is the tablet form of pseudoephedrine, which is found in common cold remedies. In 2004, Oklahoma became the first state to limit the amount of pseudoephedrine that could be purchased, and it eventually set up a registry to track sales.
Oklahoma's action was driven in part by the deaths of law officers killed in the line of duty by meth heads, particularly that of Trooper Nikky Green.
On the morning after Christmas in 2003, Green came across a mobile meth lab in southwestern Oklahoma, not far from his home.
He tried to make an arrest at the scene — the suspect was a known meth cook — but following a struggle Green wound up being executed with his own weapon.
Four months later, legislation bearing the names of Green and two other troopers was signed into law.
The number of meth labs in the state soon plummeted. However, law enforcement soon saw an increase in the amount of Mexican product flowing into Oklahoma.
That flow continues — as much as 70 percent of meth used here comes from Mexico. And now drug agents are encountering cooks who are making meth in containers as small as 20-ounce soft drink bottles.
The practice is particularly prevalent in the northeastern part of the state.
The toll inflicted by meth can't be overstated.
The state medical examiner's office says at least 26 people have died this year due to overdoses, accidents while cooking the drug or other reasons. At least 68 died a year ago.
Those who say this fight is a waste of time and money — there are many in that camp, as is always the case where illegal drugs are concerned — may indeed be right.
Will meth ever be eradicated in Oklahoma or anywhere else? Doubtful. But the scores of innocent lives lost or wasted by methamphetamine, not to mention those endangered by it every day, demand that we continue doing all we can to reduce the awful toll taken by this insidious drug.
July 13, 2010
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New meth cooking method challenges state law enforcement